Best scientist in the country: Oye Gureje, NNOM, DSc

By Opeyemi Babalola

Apart from being the first to earn the Doctor of Science (D.Sc.) in the field of Neuropsychiatry from the University of Ibadan, Professor Oye Gureje, has established for himself an excellent lifestyle for others to follow in the research world and particularly in psychiatry, mental health research, and epidemiology.

Gureje, regarded as the best scientist in Nigeria, has unmatched success academically and in conducting scientific research. 

On 19 November 2019, a subsidiary of Clarivate Analytics based in the United States, The Web of Science Group, released a list of researchers, who have showcased significance and contributed massively to problem-solving in the world. 

It was revealed that from the list of “Highly Cited Researchers” released by the group, Gureje published more than 500 peer-reviewed scientific papers, monographs, book chapters, and other reports and, his scientific papers have been cited more than 27,100 times, which placed him under the “top 1% cited researchers in the area of psychiatry and psychology.”

He was also ranked in 2018 and 2019 in the elite group of “Highly Cited Researchers” from various institutions in the world, across 21 fields of sciences and social sciences. Gureje is the only research scientist from Nigeria who made the list, alongside 6200 researchers from 60 countries around the world. 

Prof. Oye Gureje

Similarly, Professor Gureje had seven of his research findings published in the world’s most reputable journals such as The Lancet with the impact factor of 59 (2018). 

Globally, he has collaborated with more than 2500 researchers as co-author of scientific publications. 

His most recent research output published in Epidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences, called for collaboration and partnership in mental health research and capacity building in sub-Saharan Africa. As of November 2019, he has published 18 scientific publications in high impact journals including Nature. The research finding that was published in the Nature journal was in collaboration with over 1000 co-authors and the publication has already been cited 18 times.

Born in 1952 in Ilesa, Osun State, Nigeria, Gureje had his first degree in Medicine from the University of Benin, Nigeria and completed his PhD in Neuropsychiatry at the University of Ibadan (UI) after he went on to obtain a Doctor of Science (D.Sc.) in UI.

His academic career started fully in 1989 at the University of Ibadan as a Consultant Psychiatrist at the University College Hospital, Ibadan.

At the University of Ibadan and its College, he became the Head of the Department of Psychiatry in from 1999 to 2003 and 2007 to 2011 respectively.

He is also a Professor Extraordinary at the Department of Psychiatry, Stellenbosch University, South Africa.

He established in 2010, the Mental Health Leadership and Advocacy Programme (mhLAP), that has trained mental health specialists, service users and caregivers, leaders of civil society organisations, as well policymakers from across 10 sub-Saharan African countries, in mental health leadership and advocacy skills. 

He also helped to form advocacy groups for mental health service development in the five West African anglophone countries.

Gureje was President of the Association of Psychiatrists in Nigeria (2005 – 2009) and the African Association of Psychiatrists and Allied Professions (2009 – 2014). He was the zonal representative for West and Central Africa of the World Psychiatric Association (2005 – 2008) and has been chairman of its Task Force on Brain Drain (2007 – 2008), as well as being a member of several committees. He is also Senior Associate editor of Epidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences, Associate Editor of the International Journal of Epidemiology and of the International Review of Psychiatry.

On awards and recognitions, the world-renowned medical scientist, is a recipient of many research grants including awards and recognitions.

He is an honorary member of the World Psychiatric Association, a Fellow of the Nigerian Academy of Science, a recipient of the Osun State award and the Nigerian National Order of Merit Award. He is also a recipient of research endowments from several global bodies such as the Wellcome Trust, Medical Research Council (UK), Grand Challenges Canada, CBM Australia, European Union, International Development Research Centre, The US National Institute of Mental Health, Global Forum for Health Research and the World Health Organisation.

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